Powering Carts 101: What You Need to Know

 Mar 21, 2017   |    Black Box

If you're looking at purchasing mobile-device charging and storage carts, think about how you plan to use the cart and what power and charging conveniences you want. The charging solution you choose can and will affect how you use the cart. In this post, we'll take a quick look at different types of charging solutions available so you can decide how much effort you want to put into charging.

Basic Charging

This is the simplest and least expensive charging solution you can get and also the most work. Basic, or distribution, charging is having a PDU on each cart shelf. Because there's isn't a timer, it's up to you to physically plug each PDU into a wall power outlet. But, you can't plug all the PDUs in at the same time because you'll most likely experience a power overload and the circuit will shut off. So you have to decide how long to power each shelf and then physically plug and unplug the PDUs. This can be inconvenient and can result in unevenly charged devices too

Standard Charging with Timer

Like basic charging, standard charging schemes come with a PDU on each shelf. But these are connected to a timer which cycles power to each shelf in a round robin fashion, typically for 15 minutes per shelf. First, all the devices on shelf one are powered. Then the power shifts to the next shelf and so on. The benefit with this system is that it prevents the devices from drawing too much power at once and causing a circuit overload. A drawback is that it takes longer to charge all the devices than some other methods. In some cases, you also have to manually set the timers.

Advanced Charging

This is similar to standard charging with a timer, but it gives you the ability to decide how long each shelf will charge and in what order. Say you decide to charge each shelf in five minute increments, you'll actually speed up how long it takes to charge all devices and you'll get more evenly charged devices.

Intelligent (Smart) Charging

Intelligent charging also features a PDU on each shelf. And like standard charging with a timer, it will also power one zone or shelf at a time to prevent you from tripping a circuit breaker. But intelligent chargers have sensors designed to detect and charge low-battery devices first. They are also capable of charging as many devices as possible while staying under a certain power draw.

One advantage of an intelligent charging system is that it can reduce total energy consumption by discontinuing power when devices reach a full charge. This system is also beneficial for environments where devices are checked in and out of carts for different time periods. This way, they can start charging as soon as they are returned.

GDS® Wireless Charging for Tablets

This is a newer innovation in charging. You put the tablet into a protective IntelliSkin™ case that snaps into a port in the cart that is pre-wired into a PDU. There's no need to fuss with plugs and wires. There's nothing to program and it makes charging tablets incredibly easy.  

So before you make that big investment in a charging cart, consider how much convenience you want and how much effort and thought you want to put into charging.

For more information, take a look at this white paper, Reduce Time and Costs in Device-Based Learning. It details the seven factors you should consider when choosing a charging and storage cart. 

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